Recognizing Online Scams

 The Internet is a powerful tool for connecting with the world around us. We can communicate with friends through e-mail, do our shopping, conduct our banking, and research topics of interest to us without ever leaving our living room. Unfortunately, the Internet also provides scammers and other individuals with malicious intent easy access to potential victims. Knowing how to recognize and avoid these threats is an important part of protecting yourself online.

How to Recognize E-mail scams

E-mail scams

If you use e-mail, you are likely to run into a phishing scam at some point. Phishing scams are attempts to trick you into revealing personal information such as credit card information, bank account information, social security numbers, etc. through the use of fraudulent e-mails and web sites posing as legitimate organizations. While some of these scams are fairly easily recognized due to their absurdity, others are quite sophisticated. There are, however, ways to help identify a phishing e-mail.

Common characteristics of phishing e-mails include:

Which type of the following scam e-mail did you receive

  • Strange Sender Address
  • Awkward greetings
  • Typos and incorrect grammar
  • Links to other web sites
  • Compelling or alarmist language
  • “Too good to be true” offers

How to Recognize Web Scam

Web scams

Phishers and scammers don’t always try to get to you through e-mail. Sometimes just browsing the Internet can make you vulnerable as well. Some of the things to be cautious of while browsing online include:

Pop-Ups

You might be browsing the Internet and suddenly a new window opens on top of what you are doing. This could be an innocent advertisement from a legitimate company, but it could also be something more malicious. One popular scam is the fake anti-virus software pop-up that tells you a virus has been detected on your computer and directs you to download software to repair the problem. You then download a malicious software program that either harms your computer or secretly collects your information and sends it back to the criminals. Another popular approach is to inform you that you have won a contest or prize and you must click to claim it.

“Free” download sites

Some sites might offer to let you download movies, music, or games for free. Be very skeptical of downloading anything from a web site you don’t trust as these downloads could install harmful programs on your computer without you knowing.

Fake web sites

 You click on a link online that you think will bring you to the Bank of America web site whereyou can sign up for a low-interest credit card. It looks like the web site so it must be okay, right?It even has their logo and contact information. However, the URL window in your browser shows a strange web address or a misspelled web address such as “www.bnakofamerica.com.” This is not the Bank of America site and should be treated with caution.

Where could you can find a web scam

  • pop up masseges
  • download items
  • websites
  • Advertisements

How to Protect Yourself

How to Protect Yourself

While receiving scam e-mail and browser advertising may be unavoidable if you are an active member of the Internet community, there are many ways to protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim.Take these steps to protect yourself:

1. Install and maintain anti-virus software, firewalls, and e-mail filters.

Most e-mail applications and web mail services include some spam-filtering features. Find out what your e-mail provider offers. Most computers also come with some basic anti-virus protections; it is important to familiarize yourself with the process for keeping this software up to-date.Firewalls may not prevent spam in your e-mail box, but they can help protect your computer from sending information back out to hackers.

2. Regard all unsolicited e-mail with suspicion.

Don’t automatically trust an e-mail sent to you, even if it appears legitimate. Look for thecharacteristics of scam e-mails listed above. Never click on a link in the e-mail or open an e-mailattachment unless you are certain it is safe.

3. Use common sense

If an e-mail or web site seems to be offering you a deal that is too good to be true, assume that it probably is.

4. Never send personal, credit card or account information by e-mail, or enter it on a site youare not certain is genuine.

Most banks and other institutions do not ask for account information over e-mail. If you are not sure, call your institution directly to confirm.

5. Always confirm the web address of the site

 you are expecting to be on.If there are typos in the web address or it does no match up with what you expect, don’t trust it.Using browser “bookmarks” is a good way to be sure you are going to correct web sites that you use often.

6. Never download any software or files from an unknown site.

NOTE: If you think you may have been the victim of an online scam, immediately change your passwords on any accounts you think might have been compromised. Contact any institutions to which you might have revealed sensitive information directly by phone; do not rely on links or contact information contained in e-mail.


You can download any software or files from an unknown site

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e-mail  could be scam email  if it offering you a deal that is too good to be true

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